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First Fifty Pages Novel Critique

Comprehensive critique of your book's first 50 pages

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When it comes to selling your novel, first impressions are crucial. Most agents and publishers will make a decision on whether or not to keep reading your manuscript within the first chapter or two. If they make it all the way to page 50, you already have a huge advantage. Too often, writers squander the opportunity to land an agent or a publishing deal by making mistakes in the first few chapters.

Here are common mistakes that will cost you:

  • You fail to see what is truly interesting about the story.
  • You put your favorite writing first, instead of hooking the reader with an intriguing scene of conflict.
  • You don't establish a strong and distinctive voice.
  • You don't establish urgency.
  • You leave the reader wondering why this particular story is being told at this particular time.
  • The novel's stakes are unclear.
  • You don't answer the crucial question, "Whose story is this?"
  • Your manuscript contains grammatical or formatting errors.

  • With the First Fifty Pages critique, you'll discover what works in the opening chapters, what falls flat, and how to improve the style, structure, and plot of the opening scenes to give your book the best chance of success.

    This critique includes line edits to improve the pace of your novel and make dialogue pop.

    Every novel presents its own challenges, and the issues I focus on in your novel will be determined by the needs that arise as I read your manuscript. However, here are some of the things we might address:

    • Increase urgency
    • Tighten structure
    • Improve dialogue
    • Deepen characterization
    • Streamline descriptions
    • Find the heart of your story
    • Crystallize the book’s theme

    This critique is ideal for you if you have completed a manuscript and want to begin querying agents, or if you have received a response from an agent or publisher asking to see a portion of your manuscript.

    *A manuscript page is double-spaced in a standard 12 point font or higher, with 1" margins on each side.

    Your Instructor

    Michelle Richmond
    Michelle Richmond

    Michelle Richmond is the author of five novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Year of Fog, and two award-winning story collections. Her books have been sold in 28 languages. She has taught in the MFA programs in creative writing at the University of San Francisco, California College of the Arts, St. Mary's College of Moraga, Bowling Green State University, and Notre Dame de Namur University, where she held the Catherine Julie Cunningham Chair. She has also taught novel writing online for Stanford Continuing Studies. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Miami, where she was a James Michener Fellow. She is the founder and publisher of Fiction Attic Press.

    Michelle's articles on narrative craft have appeared in The Writer's Chronicle, Writer's Digest, and Glimmer Train's newsletter for writers, and her essays about literature have appeared in The Believer and Oxford American. Her stories and essays have also appeared in Glimmer Train, The Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, and many other magazines, newspapers, and anthologies.

    Class Curriculum

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